June 2010


Macky’s Caribbean Cuisine is in the same complex of strip malls as Lavender Asian Bistro and Caribbean Flavors, and so if you’re heading down 124 from Snellville to Lawrenceville, remember to turn left when you see the Aldi’s. Once you’ve turned, Macky’s will be in the strip malls to your right, but not in the same physical complex as Lavender and Flavors. It’s in the one just before that, sandwiched between the gas station and the final bit of strip mall. It’s new enough to have the “NOW OPEN” sign up when I visited.

Being brand new and next to a couple pretty good restaurants, there weren’t very many customers when we arrived. It’s a small place, with maybe 6 to 8 pretty green booths, and a counter where you order. The windows are silvered to the point you really can’t see inside while outside. It is neat and clean, however, and the menu is on a board above the counter top.

Mack’s is largely Jamaican, so unlike Caribbean Flavors, things like jerk chicken will be available. I asked the people there what I should order, as I was diabetic and I wanted something I could eat safely. They suggested jerk chicken with a vegetable as a side. My daughter ordered the small curried chicken plate. We got our drinks and waited. The entrées arrived shortly.

The jerk chicken, as I received it, was a dry jerk, no sauce on the meat. The smoke flavor was thick in my jerk chicken, and it left me wondering why the simplest Jamaican places can succeed at making excellent smoked foods, and the regional spots that should know how to smoke food really do not.  Yes, and the Vietnamese are Atlanta’s best chefs when it comes to inexpensive Cajun foods. So go figure.

I really liked my dish, both the chicken and the cabbage. My daughter liked her dish, but would have liked more chicken and less sides. Next time I guess I have to get her the large dinner plate.

Verdict: Well smoked meats. Inexpensive and good Jamaican food. Recommended.

Macky’s Caribbean Cuisine
1215 Scenic Highway
Lawrenceville, GA 30045
(770) 979-8484

Macky's Caribbean Cuisine on Urbanspoon

Baked goods, and produce, and vendors of meats, poultry and eggs all were on display at the first Snellville Farmer’s Market. Rather than say much more about it, I’ll let pictures do the talking.

Tami, of Running with Tweezers, recently opined, on the basis of an angry restaurant owner, that bloggers simply weren’t being responsible enough. We were giving out too many thoughtless reviews, that we needed to act more like professional paid journalists, think before we speak. And while Tami may feel she’s doing the blogging world some good by  mouthing this idea, I tend to feel she’s done more harm than good.

What has happened is the barriers for publication have been falling markedly over the Internet years. First it was access to a bulletin board via modem. A few years later, the introduction of the world wide web again lowered the barrier to entry. A web site became part and parcel of owning an Internet account. Pages could be published by uploading them into personal space. This required a certain amount of technical skill. Barriers were lowered by tools such as html tidy, but people had to know how to use them to make pages.

Then came blogs. As a medium, they lower the barriers of publication even more than before. Almost anyone could set up and write a blog. When I started there were perhaps 25 active food blogs in the Atlanta, ones that had at least 10 articles on Atlanta restaurants. A bit over a year later, there are perhaps 45 blogs in the Atlanta area, talking about food (These counts are by rough examination of the Urban Spoon Leaderboard). It’s not one media outlet, powered by advertising, beholden to advertisers, telling everyone where to eat. It’s dozens of people on their own blogs, and hundreds counting the various web forums.

People have not gotten used to this stream of information, and in particular, to those people whose job it is to craft a media image, blogs create a real headache. They’re not that easy to manipulate. Many of us are eating as a hobby, not a profession. There are no palms to grease, no offers to be made. Opinions are wildly different, and people who have a way of attracting readership (via negative reviews, or so the theme goes) gather followings that restaurateurs obviously find threatening. That’s whats at the core of Tami’s message, and it’s a notion I don’t find comforting.

The history of central control of the media is not good. If you don’t believe me, read the royal hymns of Ur III sometime. As Bob Dise [1] says

The royal hymns of Ur III  portray the king as the ideal soldier and perfect military commander. He is exceptionally strong and brave; no one excels him in in handling all kinds of weapons. In every battle, he personally leads his troops into combat. The fame of his triumphs has spread across the world; it fills his enemies with terror. The king is also a superb and fearless hunter of dangerous animals. Rather than striking the beasts from ambush or trapping them with nets, he fights them face to face, and by slaying them he makes the land safe for the shepherds and their sheep.

The more tightly controlled the media are, the fewer the outlets, the more the function of the media are reduced to mere propaganda. Conversely, when the printing press was invented, it led to an explosion of literacy and rapid change. The print media environment, prior to the Internet revolution, was shrinking because of the expansion of centrally controlled radio and television. In the late 20th century, there were fewer newspaper outlets than ever before, a shrinkage occurring to this very day. The only change has in fact been the explosion of the Internet, bringing back both text and color in ways print media simply cannot match.

Restaurateurs of the older generation don’t like it. They would rather have to deal with the relatively compliant print, television and radio media and craft their image through favors and advertising.

Blogging by its nature is chaotic and a loud, varied voice. We’re not professionals and wishing that we would become pros misses a point. This is a hobby for me. I pay for this hobby out of my own pocket. Therefore what I say is an opinion, and hardly an edict.

Rather than blame bloggers for having a cacophony of voices, being amateurs, and calling us irresponsible, why not accept the variability and learn to read to the mean? One blogger says something? Read another. Average out the opinions and weight them internally. Figure out who can be trusted, who can be mostly trusted, who can’t be trusted. We’ve always had that kind of filter on our media (i.e.  do you take the Weekly World News seriously), and we need to learn how to do that kind of filtering day to day. This is not a new skill, but an old one to be relearned in an era where the alternative voice is found on blogs, and not the many small newspapers of the turn of the 20th century.

1. Professor Robert L. Dise, Jr, Ancient Empires before Alexander, Vol 1, Teaching Company, 2009, ISBN 1-59803-558-4, page 61.

The Norcross Farmer’s Market (aka the Whistle Stop Farmer’s Market) is open on Tuesdays from 4 to 8 pm. I got off work early to take a quick peek.

Organic produce, free range eggs and grass fed beef were available there. If I manage to get back, I’ll be sure to take more than the $10.00 I showed up with.

Whistle Stop Farmer’s Market
Alongside Thrasher Park
Buchanon Street
Norcross GA

The Marietta Diner is an Atlanta icon, the model on which most diners in the city are based. It isn’t a product of random fame, but rather a function of it performing better than the competition. It starts with a good staff, dressed in white shirts and tie, staff that is courteous and cooperative. Having more than one staff member work with your table seems routine here. It continues with a deft handling of a large menu. Food isn’t all staples, nor is it boring.

The diner has a good looking outside, though the combination of chrome, glass, and gray cinder block is an interesting one. The Marietta Diner is part of a family of restaurants, the sign announcing the sister restaurants clearly visible from the diner parking lot. Inside, brown wood is supplemented with a color scheme dealing in burnt oranges and reds, resulting in a more subdued look than many neon and chrome diner interiors.

On this day I had a series of dilemmas caused by the menu, which I mostly solved by making the most conservative choices I could. There was an Irish lamb stew in the specials, which looked really good. But did it have potatoes? If so, how many? So, I chickened out and had the Mediterranean panini instead. Yes, it had sweet potato fries on the side, but I didn’t have to eat them. It came with a soup, so I chose cream of spinach, trying to avoid the pastas of, say, chicken noodle. The soup came out quickly.

I tasted creamy, buttery, and cheesy flavors in the soup. The flavors of spinach were more hinted at than dominant. This isn’t a food I’ve had much of, since my diet pretty strictly limits my fat consumptions, and the soup was quite rich.

The panini was an interesting dish. There was far more cheese in it than chicken, and the vegetable slices were thick and delicious. The chicken that was there added a distinct grilled flavor to the sandwich and the gooey cheese acted as the glue that held it all together.

The serving of fries was huge and enticing. I had one fry. I couldn’t resist. In general, dishes in this eatery were enormous. The wings plate and the chicken fried steak plates served next to me could easily feed two people. Take out bags looked like grocery shopping bags. Desserts, in glass and chrome display cases, were huge.

This diner brings back memories, as the first place I stayed in Atlanta was a couple minutes away from this diner. Age seems to have enhanced the reputation of this eatery. Guy Fieri’s visit made it much easier to get my family here (no photos of that visit though). And the sheer efficiency of the place, the quality of service, the easily accessible menu keeps people coming back for more.

Verdict: An iconic diner that easily holds up to its reputation. Highly recommended.

Marietta Diner
306 Cobb Parkway South (i.e. US 41)
Marietta, GA 30060
(770) 423-9390

Marietta Diner on Urbanspoon

Notes: Other blog reviews of this diner include one by John Bickford, another by Amy of Amy on Food, and also the blog Vainas Varias.

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